President meets new head of EU Commission in Paris

European Union – Statement to the press by M. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, and Ms Ursula von der Leyen, President-elect of the European Commission – Remarks by M. Macron

Paris, 23 July 2019

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THE PRESIDENT – Well, good afternoon everyone. I’m very pleased today to welcome Ms Ursula von der Leyen, Madam President, a few days after the European Parliament vote. Thank you taking time out from Brussels to come here following the latest Council of Ministers’ meeting in Berlin, and for this first visit to an EU country. I’m extremely touched, touched and pleased, because I think the choice the European Council made a few weeks ago, confirmed by the European Parliament vote, allows us to begin a new chapter of our history, which you’re going to take forward and which you symbolize. This new chapter is that of an ambition which our fellow citizens also backed by voting in May, which you powerfully promoted in the speech you delivered to the European Parliament and which will form the basis of your project – one which, I have to say, I and France fully identify with.

Firstly, a strong climate ambition, as you said, with the green pact, the environmental pact, the climate bank, carbon neutrality by 2050, the setting of a minimum CO2 price, a border tax and so a genuine climate ambition reflected by a very strong, new environment agenda of our Europe. Secondly, a Europe of social progress, i.e. convergence once again. As we know, we’ve got 28 different models – 27 tomorrow – and [there’s] a need, despite everything, to bring this all together again and have the same requirements, to move towards coordinating minimum wages, which everyone would set in line with their rules but which would allow us to have genuine social convergence and allow our middle classes to progress again after the crisis we experienced 10 years ago.

Thirdly, a Europe which protects and can resolve the migration issue, a significant challenge; [a Europe] which can protect its borders, which can protect itself too through a genuine defence ambition, which you did so much to promote in your previous post. I think that, here too, our agenda, which we discussed a few days ago, on the occasion of 14 July, with the European Intervention Initiative leaders, is extremely important, and you cogently repeated this during your speech to the European Parliament. We’re also talking about a Europe of values, a Europe which defends the rule of law, freedom of the press and all the values which form our bedrock at the Council of Europe and the European Union, and which have sometimes been a subject of tension, but one on which we must be extremely vigilant and powerfully stick to our ambitions and principles; you reiterated this, and I think it’s extremely important.

We’re also talking about a Europe which can respond to the challenges of the future, such as digital technology and artificial intelligence, and which is going to have to invest, come up with new rules, succeed in building a genuine market of 28 – 27 tomorrow – and therefore also face up to this challenge and embrace its ambition and future.

I have to say that France fully identifies with all the issues you mentioned in your speech: a more united, more sovereign, more democratic Europe, which promotes this ambition of the future and which will also have to think, as part of the citizens’ democratic conventions, about the changes which are absolutely essential for the future. And you also symbolize this new Europe; and in my view, 40 years on from the first female president of the European Parliament, Simone Veil, having the first female president of the European Commission, and the fact it is you, is I think also not just symbolic but the embodiment of a new face, a new ambition, a Europe which also wants to regenerate itself. And so for all these reasons, we’ll be at your side in support of this agenda and as part of this new phase, and thank you so much for being here this lunchtime. We’re now going to begin working together.

UK/Theresa May/Boris Johnson

Q. – (inaudible), a reaction to Boris Johnson’s appointment as Prime Minister; is this good or bad news for the European Union?

THE PRESIDENT – I’d just like to say a few words to thank Theresa May for the good work we’ve done together all these past years. She took office at a difficult time following the referendum, and she’s worked with us all these years with great courage and dignity. She’s never obstructed the workings of the European Union, and she’s tried to serve British interests as well as possible, with extreme loyalty to what the British people expressed. I want to pay tribute to her here.

British democracy is functioning, and in particular the life of the Conservative Party, and so I congratulate Boris Johnson on this result. I’ll call him as soon as he’s officially Prime Minister – because a procedure is now going to be triggered – and I’m very keen to work with him as soon as possible, not only on our European issues and the continuation of the Brexit negotiations, of course, but also on the international issues that concern us daily and on which we coordinate closely, in particular with the British and the Germans, whether it be the situation in Iran or international security issues. And so I warmly congratulate Boris Johnson and I hope we can work together as soon as possible. Thank you./.

Published on 09/01/2020

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